It’s that time of year again! State Fair concessionaires are gearing up to debut their latest and greatest edible innovations to the public. Following in the footsteps of last year’s success, the 13th Annual Big Tex® Choice Awards, presented by Visit Dallas, returns bigger and “batter” than ever. Whether your palette craves something savory or more of a sweet dream, 2017’s assortment of tasty treats will not disappoint! This year, the stakes were raised with a third category joining the award lineup. Three winners will be crowned in the 2017 Big Tex Choice Awards ceremony, receiving awards for “Best Taste – Sweet,” “Best Taste – Savory,” and “Most Creative.”
2017 Big Tex Choice Awards Semi-Finalists
|Beer Battered Beef Jerky||Fried Redneck Wedding Cake Balls|
|Cajun Fried Deviled Eggs||Fried Sloppy Joe Flautas with ‘Not Cho’ Fries|
|Crawfish Lollipop||Fried Texas Dirt|
|Deep Fried Bacon Wrapped Mozzarella with Jalapeno Ranch||Fried Texas Sheet Cake|
|Deep Fried Breakfast Cupcake||Funnel Cake Bacon Queso Burger|
|Deep Fried Chicken Noodle Soup on a Stick||Gulf Coast Fish Bowl|
|Deep Fried Fruit Loops||Oreo Beer|
|Deep Fried Reuben||Pinot Noir Popcorn|
|Deep Fried Root Beer Float with Dragon’s Breath||Ramen Grasshopper Cookie|
|Dreamy Drunken Sopapilla Cheesecake Bar||Southern Fried Chicken Monte Cristo|
|Fat Smooth||Surfin-Turfin-Tator Boat|
|Fried Arroz Con Pollo||Texas Fajita Fries|
|Fried Cheesecake Stuffed Apple Sundae||Texas Fried Cowboy Fritters|
|Fried El Paso||The Tamale Donut|
|Fried Mango Loco||Tipsy Topsy Catfish on a Stick|
The contest kicked off in mid-July with an astounding 47 total entries. It is required that all competitors have at least one year of experience as a concessionaire at the Fair to enter the competition. With food as a popular attraction to the State Fair each year, these contenders are more than just successful food aficionados; they have proved themselves to be authentic representations of the dedication and passion brought each year to the Big Tex Choice Awards.
The unique selection process used in the annual competition is headed up by a panel of internal judges and requires “blind judging” from start to finish, meaning the panel does not know which concessionaire is behind each recipe. This allows for the scoring to be totally based on the food entry itself and leaves no room for bias toward or against concessionaires, since their identities are not revealed to the panel. Contestants put their concessionaire creativity to the test by coming up with an enticing name and description for their original concoctions – then comes the first round of preliminary judging. Faced with a solid list of tempting treats, the judges base their choices solely on which food name and description sounds the most appealing to their personal palette, just like a fairgoer might do while at the Fair. After much deliberation, the scores have been tallied and the results are in; 30 snacks reigned superior over the rest to continue to the next round.
Over the next several weeks, the second round of preliminary judging will begin and these edible creations will have to prove to the panel of judges that they are just as delicious as they sound. The tasting round consists of judging each semi-finalist on, at minimum, four main ingredients of a finalist-worthy concoction: uniqueness, presentation, creativity and, of course, taste. The judges will also have to defend their rankings against the seemingly simple yet crucial question – how likely is a fairgoer to actually buy the item? By mid-August, anticipation will be at an ultimate high when the Fair-food finalists are announced! With the addition of a third winning category, the number of finalists has also increased. This year, the top 10 entries will compete in the final round. Even if your cuisine of choice falls short, concessionaires can still choose to introduce their food at their stand as a “new food” during this year’s State Fair.
With less than one month left until the doors swing open for the 13th Annual Big Tex® Choice Awards, presented by Visit Dallas, be sure to mark your calendars for Sunday, August 27 at 2 p.m. in the historic Tower Building at Fair Park. Tickets will be available online at BigTex.com for $100, with a limited amount of seats available. All proceeds from the Big Tex Choice Awards ceremony will be donated to the State Fair of Texas Youth Scholarship Program. Come cheer on your favorite tasty treat and sample the rest, as the ten finalists go up against a panel of celebrity judges in hopes of snagging one of most coveted titles in Fair food.
About the State Fair of Texas
Since its inception in 1886, the State Fair of Texas has celebrated all things Texan by promoting agriculture, education, and community involvement through quality entertainment in a family-friendly environment. The State Fair of Texas is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with all proceeds helping to preserve and improve Fair Park; underwrite museum, community, and scholarship programs for inner-city youth and students pursuing agricultural careers; and help improve State Fair operations. The 2017 exposition runs September 29 through October 22 in Fair Park. Visit BigTex.com for more information.